Built in 1622, London’s Banqueting House was once part of the Palace of Whitehall, which was home to the English monarch for 168 years. The building is the last structure standing of the former complex. It exemplifies the beginnings of neoclassical architecture and boasts a tumultuous history, including the execution of Charles I in 1649.
Absorb views of the grand exterior of the Banqueting House on a city walking tour, or book ahead to guarantee entry. Tread in the footsteps of historic ambassadors, such as Pocahontas, as you wander through the undercroft or glimpse Rubens’ iconic ceiling in the Main Hall. Convenient hop-on hop-off buses let you explore Banqueting House and beyond at your own pace, while discounted packages can help you visit several London landmarks in one visit.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visiting is a must for anyone interested in European history, art, or architecture.
- Elevator access to the Main Hall is limited, so wheelchair users should call ahead to make accessibility arrangements.
- Sign language interpreters are available the first Saturday morning of each month.
- Booking ahead is recommended, as the site is sometimes closed for private functions.
- Whitehall is home to a number of top attractions, so sightseeing tours can help you save time and money.
How to Get There
Westminster is ideal for walking excursions, with so many landmarks strewn across a relatively small area. Right in the middle of the action, Banqueting House is located on Whitehall, a 10-minute walk from the Embankment or Westminster Underground stations. Whitehall is also served by several local buses, as well as hop-on hop-off tours.
When to Get There
Banqueting House is open daily year-round, except for Dec. 24–26 and New Year’s Day. It is wise to arrange your visit in advance, as the building is sometimes booked for private functions. Whitehall is impressive at any time of year, but winter’s festive lights lend extra charm to the historic street.
Palaces of London
Banqueting House may be the last vestige of the Palace of Whitehall, but there are plenty more royal residences that are open to visitors in London. Whitehall’s Tudor contemporaries include nearby St. James’s Palace and Hampton Court Palace in Richmond, the site of Queen Jane Seymour’s death in childbirth.